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Powell Goes to Pakistan and India, May Discuss Kashmir

Aired October 16, 2001 - 05:04   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Secretary of State Colin Powell is meeting today with Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf. Gen. Musharraf says that Pakistan will support the anti terrorist campaign as long as it lasts. Powell says Pakistan's cooperation will help the country in the long run.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: The campaign against al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden and those who harbor them is our top priority. This is what brought me here today, but I'm also confident that over time, we will be able to expand our cooperation to accomplish the full range of bilateral and multi lateral issues that are of importance to both of our nations.

President Musharraf's commitment to return Pakistan to democracy will enhance his effort to deepen social reform, improve education and improve the lives of his people. We share those important and lofty goals and in the coming months the United States will take concrete steps to strengthen Pakistan's economy and further broaden our commercial and trade ties.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: The secretary of state will travel to India tonight. Long simmering tensions between India and Pakistan flared up just as Powell was arriving. The two countries traded shots across the disputed border in Kashmir.

CNN's Maria Ressa explains why Kashmir is such a flash point for the two countries.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARIA RESSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kashmir, the root of the conflict between nuclear powers India and Pakistan who have fought two outright wars over it since 1947.

India's pushing the United States to expand its war on terrorism to include some of the militant groups fighting for independence in Kashmir. When one of those groups, the Ji Sha Muhammad (ph) initially claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack on October 1 that killed 40 people, India's government faced pressure to take stronger military action. BRAHMA CHELLANEY, POLITICAL ANALYST: The United States I think has (INAUDIBLE) from India quite carefully, you know, so it has understood the public pressures on the government here. And they have made statements in public in recent days to assuage India's concerns.

RESSA: Among those moves, to place Ji Sha Muhammad on the list of groups whose assets the U.S. wants frozen. Britain went one step further and banned it as a terrorist group. Ji Sha Muhammad founder Milano Massoud Azar (ph) was one of three militants freed in 1999 in exchange for the lives of passengers of a hijacked India airlines plane.

India claims Azar has strong support from Pakistan.

NIRUPAMA RAD, INDIAN SPOKESWOMAN: And in fact, while Massoud Azar was in Indian custody in the mid '90s, at least on two occasions, we had received requests for his release from the Pakistani government.

RESSA: Still for now, the attacks on Afghanistan have placed Kashmir on a back burner and may actually help force both governments to negotiate.

PREM SHANKR JHA, POLITICAL ANALYST: I think the west has asked him to do that. Just as the west has asked us to not embarrass Pakistan at this very delicate moment by taking some unilateral action. And I think that both governments are playing ball in that and that's what you see.

RESSA: Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf recently asked India to resume peace talks, which stalled over Kashmir two months ago.

For now, like it or not, it is India's interest to support President Musharraf. Balancing relations between India and Pakistan remains one of the biggest challenges the United States faces, an issue Colin Powell will address carefully in the next two days.

Maria Ressa, CNN, New Delhi.

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